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WB SURF CAMP TEAM

Rick Civelli – Founder/President

Rick Civelli – Founder/President

As a kid, Rick Civelli spent his summers clamming, fishing, and of course surfing. Without realizing it, his appreciation for environmental conservation was ingrained before his teens. He graduated from UNC-Wilmington with his Bachelors in Environmental Studies. During college and after graduation he worked as a marine science educator at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. For three years he developed and facilitated programs while teaching thousands of adults and children about the wonders of our coastal ecosystems. During both his undergraduate and graduate studies, he was an assistant director for UNCW’s Marine Science Summer Camp Program.

To broaden his professional development he later worked as a permit and enforcement officer for the North Carolina Division of Coastal Management. Taking a different approach to environmental conservation, he reviewed and permitted coastal development projects, and issued fines for remediation of impacted coastal resources. Rick sat on the Board of Directors for the Society of Masonboro Island and is a member the Surfrider Foundation, and the NC Aquarium Society. He also spent 3 years pursuing a Masters Degree in Coastal Geology from UNC-Wilmington’s Center for Marine Science where he studied coastal processes.

In the winter of 1995, Rick developed a marine science educational learn to surf program for our local aquarium which he called “Surf’s Up”. Since then he has taught thousands of students of all ages the sport of surfing while enlightening them of the wonders of our coastal environment.

His travels have brought him to surf and study coastal processes and habitats all over the world. He has explored coral reefs in Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Anegada, Antigua, Bermuda, Jost Van Dyke, St Lucia, St Thomas, St John, and St Martin. He has swam with sea turtles in, Tortola, Baja Mexico, Barbados, and Costa Rica, sharks in Looe Key national marine sanctuary, sting rays in the Bahamas, sea lions in Peru, and dolphins off Key West Florida.

He has surfed up and down the east coast from Nantucket to Block Island to Cape Hatteras to Sebastian inlet. He has also caught many epic swells on the West coast from Morro Bay to Tourmaline San Diego. On several occasions Rick has also ventured to the North Shore of Oahu, where he visited famous surf breaks including Waimea Bay, Pipeline, Sunset and Sandy Beach.

With his love for surfing and utmost respect for the ocean and it’s resources, Rick has developed this unparalleled fun experience known as “WB Surf Camp.”

Jen Civelli – Founder

Jen Civelli – Founder

Jen’s first experience with sea turtles was the beginning of a lifelong commitment to sea turtle conservation and taking care of our oceanic resources.  She started volunteering at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Hospital & Rehabilitation Center in 2001.

Jen has fifteen years of experience in higher education as an instructor of Chemistry at both Cape Fear Community College and the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.  Jen loves to teach and educate today’s youth and young adult population, especially in the field of sea turtles and coastal conservation.

Jen’s passion for the marine environment started living along the California coast while in college.  Jen received her Bachelors’ degree in Biochemistry from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo.  Her passion followed her to San Diego State University where she earned her Master’s Degree in Chemistry.

Jen loves to travel and experience new environments and cultures.  She especially loves warm-water surf destinations where she can spend time in the water with her husband, two sons, and two dogs.  Jen can often be found on a sporting field cheering on her boys’ games!

Deaton Wright – VP of Operations

Deaton Wright – Operations Director

Born and raised in North Carolina, Deaton spent most of his childhood on the beach or in the mountains. He attended his freshman year of college at Lenoir-Rhyne University where he was an NCAA Academic and Athletic All-American swimmer. He then transferred to UNCW in 2012 where he began his career with WB Surf Camp. While attending college he worked in many different roles within the company to include teen overnight camps, day camps and international surf coaching. He has a passion to teach, travel and positively influence the lives of others.

Upon graduating from college, Deaton found himself fully immersed in a winter wonderland while working on the mountain in Breckenridge, Colorado. He was thankful for the experience but his love for the ocean led him back to the east coast where he moved to the Outer Banks (OBX) of North Carolina. It is here that he honed in on his skills in staff management, operations, international travel programming and of course the heavy barreling surf that the area has to offer. While living in the OBX he maintained his relationship with Surf Camp and spent time coaching in Tortola and Costa Rica.

After years of experience in the water-sports industry, Deaton’s aptitude for logistics, operations, concern for conservation and search for more meaning in his career led him back to Surf Camp, where he is the Operations Director. In his free time, you can find him fishing the inland waters of NC, hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains, searching for barrels and researching his next surf trip.

Kasey Schollenberger – Program Director

Kasey Schollenberger – Program Director

Kasey was born and raised in Toms River, New Jersey. Growing up on the Jersey Shore, she was able to visit the beach year round and develop a true connection to the ocean and all of the related wildlife and ecosystems. At a very young age, she knew that she wanted to spend her life developing her passion for the ocean and marine life.

In 2008, Kasey moved to North Carolina to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology from the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW). While completing her degree, she volunteered and interned at the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher. Soon after graduating, Kasey interned at the University of Georgia’s Marine Extension Service and Aquarium as an environmental educator. This is where her passion for environmental education flourished. Following that internship, Kasey decided to further her education and returned to UNCW to pursue a Master’s of Science degree in Environmental Science and Coastal Management. Kasey has a wide variety of education experience in the fields of marine and environmental science, which have all deepened her love for public outreach and all things related to the marine environment.

When Kasey isn’t teaching about the ocean, she can be found at the beach reading a book, hiking, kayaking, or doing just about anything outdoors! She is very excited to have found her way back to Wilmington and loves that she gets to spend winters in North Carolina instead of freezing in New Jersey!

Chase O’Briant – Program Coordinator

Chase O’Briant – Program Coordinator

Chase was born and raised in Wilmington, North Carolina.  He taught himself how to surf at the age of eight, and grew up surfing the north side of Crystal Pier in Wrightsville Beach.   When he isn’t surfing, Chase spends most of his time fishing, tending his garden, or writing music.  In high school, Chase was the founder and president of his school’s Surf Club, he played varsity soccer, was deeply involved in the local music community, and earned the Eagle Scout Award.

Chase graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2018 with a degree in English and Political Science.  One of the highlights from his years in school was being a student when the Tar Heels won the 2017 NCAA Basketball Championship.   As a student, Chase worked as a lifeguard at the campus pool, and coached campus-league soccer teams in both the men’s and co-ed divisions, winning one title in the co-ed division.  It was during this time that Chase became a surf instructor with WB Surf Camp.

Chase started as a Surf Lesson Instructor in 2016, he then moved into the role of Day Surf Camp Unit Leader, spent time in Costa Rica guiding our travel programs, and later joined our administration team as a Program Coordinator. As a Wilmington local, Chase has extensive knowledge of the beaches in the area, has proven his ability as an excellent surf coach, and is passionate about spreading his love for coastal culture.

Mead Krówka – Program Coordinator

Mead Krówka – Program Coordinator

Born outside Chicago, Illinois, Mead has always been drawn to the water. In 2008, Mead moved with his family to Asheville, NC, where he volunteered at the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education, sparking his interest in the natural world. This led to Mead becoming PADI Open Water Dive certified in 2014, PADI Rescue Diver certified in 2017, and maintaining continuous American Red Cross Lifeguard certification since 2015.

In 2017, Mead moved to Wilmington to begin his career at UNCW. It was at this time he learned to surf and has been in the water with every given opportunity since. Since then, he has been experimenting with different board shapes and styles, his favorite board being a 6’1 Single Fin Bonzer. During his time at UNCW, Mead was a member of the UNCW SCUBA Club and an intern for the Alliance for Cape Fear Trees. He also completed a directive individual study in 2020, studying the diet of the Greater Northern Galago primates, publishing his research in the American Journal of Biological Anthropology.

Mead graduated magna cum laude in 2021 with a B.S. in Environmental Science, a B.A. in Anthropology, and a Chemistry minor. Immediately following, he became the Sea Turtle Camp SCUBA Marine Educator, before transitioning to his current position as the WB Surf Camp Program Coordinator. In his free time, Mead is most likely surfing on Wrightsville Beach. He also enjoys shaping surfboard fins, exploring shipwrecks, and enjoying all the natural beauty coastal NC has to offer!

Bailey Kaufman – Program Coordinator

Bailey Kaufman – Program Coordinator

Bailey grew up year-round on Fire Island, New York. She spent her entire childhood on the sands of the tiny barrier island, always doing her part educating visitors, local communities, and other parties about her hometowns’ wildlife, history, and environmental issues. She has deep love and respect for the ocean and all it offers. Her goal is to help others feel the same by educating them about the importance of marine and coastal ecosystems.

In 2016, Bailey ventured to St. Augustine, Florida, to receive her bachelor’s degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management and a minor in Spanish at Flagler College. She was an active member of the college’s sustainability club and always volunteered within the community. During her final semester, Bailey interned at Anastasia State Park and gained abundant experience working with Florida’s wildlife, especially with sea turtles! After graduating in 2020, she completed a 50-week AmeriCorps service term through Conservation Legacy, serving as the Community Volunteer Ambassador for Fire Island National Seashore. During this time, her interest in conservation, community outreach, and environmental education grew stronger. She is currently enhancing her outdoor teaching skills and science/nature content knowledge through the North Carolina Environmental Education Certificate program.

Bailey spends her free time surfing, painting, hiking, cooking, practicing yoga, and exploring nature. She loves to travel and encourages individuals to travel sustainably and support local communities!

Michaela LeMay – Program Coordinator

Michaela LeMay – Program Coordinator

Michaela was born and raised in Massachusetts and moved to South Carolina in 2014. She decided to trade in the cold, snowy winters for warmer weather and the coast and has since fallen for the beauty of the Carolinas. She completed her undergrad at Coastal Carolina University in Marine Science with a Biology minor.

After graduating, she started her career as a park ranger with SC State Parks. While working for the organization she was able to rediscover a passion of educating youth about the natural resources of the coast. Inspired by her work, Michaela decided to return to school and is almost finished with her master’s in Youth Development and Leadership at Clemson University.

While working for SC State Parks, she volunteered with SCDNR’s Sea Turtle stranding and nesting programs. She spent four summers responding to sea turtle strands, working on sea turtle nests, and educating the public in Myrtle Beach, SC. Due to her work with sea turtles, Michaela is a very early riser and with her free time can be found reading, somewhere outside, or searching for something new to learn.

Elena Grace – Marketing and Media Manager

Elena Grace – Marketing and Media Manager

Elena Grace is the Marketing and Media Manager at WB Surf Camp. Having grown up on the coast her whole life, her love and appreciation for the ocean have only increased with time. Elena Grace was brought to Wilmington for school where she attended UNCW for a degree in English Professional Writing. Passionate about creating, and a huge fan of  Surf Camp and the sister brands, Elena Grace could not be happier to be a part of the WB team. On a normal day, you will likely find Elena Grace with a coffee or camera, planning the next content shoot! 

Liz Smith – On-Site Camp Director

Liz Smith – On-Site Camp Director

Liz grew up going to summer camp and enjoyed it so much she decided to make a career of it! Combining her love of camp with a passion for coastal science led her to get a master’s degree in Environmental Education from UNCW. Liz has also worked at the NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island as an educator, UNCW as an adjunct professor, and many, many camps as a naturalist. This is her second year with Surf Camp, but her 28th year at a summer camp. From CIT, to counselor, all the way to director, Liz has worked nearly every position at camp but most enjoys now being able to teach young adults about working with kids, teaching about the environment, and becoming professionals themselves.

Liz originally hails from Illinois and first fell in love with the ocean at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. Moving to the ocean was her first priority after high school, and she’s lived within 10 miles of the beach ever since. Her favorite coastal activity is kayaking in the Intracoastal Waterway and marshes. When not at camp, Liz spends time fostering retired racing greyhounds, making crafts and sewing, and reading science fiction.

Icah Wilmot – Ambassador – Adult Travel Coach

Icah Wilmot – Ambassador – Adult Travel Coach

As Jamaica’s first pro-surfer, ISA level 2 surf coach, and the holder of countless championship titles, Icah is deeply invested in the surfing community. In addition to teaching surf lessons in Jamaica, Icah also coaches Jamaica’s Paralympic team of surfers.

His father founded the Jamaica Surf Association, as well as owns and operates Jamaica’s longest running surf school, Jamnesia.  In fact, Icah still makes time between work and competitions to surf, teach, and jam around the campfire with his family.  Today, Icah Wilmot is a household name in Jamaica and in the world of surfing.

Despite a long list of surfing accomplishments, Icah is best known for his warm and friendly personality, along with his humble and sociable attitude towards all his fellow ocean lovers.  Whether you are a new surfing grom or seasoned shredder, Icah welcomes you to the water with encouragement and positivity that will truly make you feel like a surfe

Flash Miranda – Costa Rica/Peru Surf Coach

Flash Miranda – Costa Rica/Peru Surf Coach

Flash is a Costa Rican native who spent more time in the water than out of it growing up.  At age 15, Flash moved from the city of Liberia to the coastal region of Playa Marbella to pursue surfing full time.  He later became a full-time surf instructor in Tamarindo and it was there where Flash developed new techniques to teach people how to surf, including video analysis and surf seminars.

In May 2016, Flash opened his own surf school and retreat company. We have worked with Flash since 2005 and consider him a part of our family! He joins our team to provide our clients with professional instruction and a true locals’ experience.  He is a bi-lingual instructor for Adult and Teen Costa Rica camps as well as our adult surf trips to Peru.

Lily Crawford – NC Teen Overnight Counselor/Surf Instructor

Lily Crawford – NC Teen Overnight Counselor/Surf Instructor

Lily grew up in Virginia Beach where she spent every second she could get at the beach. Lily learned how to surf from a family friend when she was six years old, and immediately fell in love with the sport. In middle school, she and some friends decided to start surfing competitively. Doing competitions with her friends made competitive surfing fun, but also added another element to surfing by allowing her to challenge herself and improve her skills. Lily is currently a sophomore at Clemson University studying graphic communications and absolutely loving it! Her family moved to Richmond, VA a few years ago, so she is not able to be around the ocean as much as she used to be, but that means she has learned to cherish every minute she gets in the water so much more. Some of the coolest places Lily has surfed are Costa Rica, Hawaii, and Hatteras Island, NC. She has spent almost every summer since she was eight going to summer camps where she has made some of her best memories and friends as a camper, junior counselor, and counselor. This will be Lily’s second year at Surf Camp and she is thrilled to be able to come back to continue to share her love for the ocean and surfing!

 

Nicole Kirsten – Carolina Ocean Odyssey Counselor

Nicole Kirsten Carolina Ocean Odyssey Counselor

Meet Nicole, often known as Nicki or Nics. She is 24 years old, born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa. She studied Sport Science and Biokinetics at the University of Pretoria and graduated in 2020. After college, she then returned to Johannesburg to do an internship in 2021. After studying and completing the internship, she became fully qualified for work, but first wanted to take the time to travel, adventure and see a bit of the world this year.

Growing up Nicki’s favorite holiday trips were always (and still are) at the beach or at a local reservoir. She adores the beach, being outdoors and in the sunshine; she is happiest on a boat or swimming in the sea. She is always keen to try new things and see new places, no matter how extravagant or simple, just as long as you refer to it as being an “adventure”. Nicki loves music and dancing and more often than not is the first on and last one off the dance floor.

Some fun facts about Nicki: she can play the drums, has her skippers license, considers “Footloose” to be the best movie ever made, and her three favorite things are strawberry ice cream, classic VW beetles and country music.

 

Chris Harris- Surf Coach

Chris Harris- Surf Coach

Chris was born in Philadelphia, PA, but he spent his summers in South Jersey where he learned to surf when he was six and started helping and teaching lessons at age 12. Surfing has helped him connect with the ocean and led Chris to UNCW to pursue a degree in oceanography. He can speak French proficiently and used to swim competitively! When Chris isn’t surfing, he is either running, exploring on his road bike, or spending time outside with friends. He loves to give back to the community and volunteer when he has time.  Chris’ favorite surfboard is a 6’10 bonzer because it catches nearly every wave and it’s a very versatile ride! In the winter he likes to snowboard and, in the spring, he enjoys hiking and backpacking. Chris is passionate about sustainability and helping others fall in love with surfing.

Colby Blackwell- Surf Instructor

Colby Blackwell- Surf Instructor

Colby is from Fayetteville, North Carolina. He is studying at UNCW for Marine Biology with a concentration in conservation. Colby’s Grandparents live here in Wilmington and he says every time he visits he makes sure to hit the beach. He started his surfing journey in 2016 and has been catching waves ever since. Colby has convinced and helped all of his friends to learn how to surf, and they all go out together. Colby also contributes his passion for ocean life conservation to surfing. He never really noticed all that was out there, and how important it is, until he started surfing. He plans on getting his master’s degree in marine biology to do conservation and restoration research for all our favorite marine friends. In his free time, Colby loves to be outside, walking, skating, surfing, or even just sitting with friends.

James Nagaoka- Carolina Ocean Odyssey Unit Leader

James Nagaoka- Carolina Ocean Odyssey Unit Leader

James was born and raised 45 minutes from the Pacific Ocean in Arcadia, CA. Fun fact: Arcadia, CA has wild peacocks that roam the streets! The close proximity to the beach fostered his love for the ocean and all of the life it holds. He moved to Columbus, Ohio to attend The Ohio State University. Initially, James didn’t know what he wanted to study, but after switching majors a few times, he finally decided on Evolution and Ecology. He will be graduating this spring with a B.S. in Evolution and Ecology. James has a deep interest in science. He has always been an inquisitive person and while at university, he performed undergraduate research on invasive vines. During his time at OSU, James also worked as a teaching assistant for Biology where he found his love for teaching. His love for nature and teaching brought him to this position and he is super excited for this summer! James plans on attending graduate school for marine ecology after a few gap years to gain some work and life experience. Some of James’s other interests include weightlifting, baseball (go Dodgers!), and exploring new places/new food. His favorite animal is the Sea Walnut (Mnemiopsis).

John Turner- Guppy/Grom Camp

John Turner- Guppy/Grom Camp

John, born in Ohio, moved to North Carolina 10 years ago. Despite not having grown up on the coast, he knew it was where he belonged. During his high school years, he was a sports coach at the local youth summer camps, where he learned early on what it means to be a role model. He is passionate about marine conservation and enjoys learning fun new ways to spread awareness about the importance of marine ecosystems!

John is a junior at the University of North Carolina Wilmington pursuing a bachelor’s in marine biology. He plans to begin his DIS (directed independent study) in the fall of 2022. His lifetime goal is to one day own an aquarium and highlight youth education and involvement. He is currently assisting with research at the Danner lab at the UNCW (University of North Carolina Wilmington) campus where he collects and analyzes avian thermography data alongside PhD student Juan Zuluaga.

In his free time, you can find him hiking, volunteering, swimming, or doing just about anything outdoors! Also, having just started to learn to surf he is super excited to hone his skills along with the campers!

 

Rich Hanks - Private Surf Instructor

Rich Hanks- Private Surf Instructor

Rich was born in Nashville, Tennessee. His faith and family are very important to him. He loves to travel, and is an avid outdoor enthusiast. Rich took a major interest in the ocean when he was 15, and has spent the last eighteen years submersed in all things ocean. Focusing on the observations of tides, currents, winds and wave patterns he has slowly become a resourceful waterman. Rich is a certified PADI Divemaster. Exploring the vibrant tropical reefs of the Caribbean in the South all the way up to the frigid Alaskan and Canadian waters of the North. When Rich is not under the ocean, it is more than likely he will be found on its surface fishing, sailing, windsurfing, or surfing.Rich is a US NAVY combat veteran, and a graduate of Honolulu Community College. He received an undergraduate degree in Administrative Justice, and is working towards a career in conservation with the Department of Fish and Wildlife in North Carolina. He hopes to educate those interested in preserving wildlife, protecting ecosystems, and resources any way he can.

 

Adam Stogdill - Activities Manager

Adam Stogdill- Activities Manager

Now entering my second season as a Surf Instructor and the new Activities Manager, I’m stoked to be on board with such a great company! I was born and raised in the Midwest, and have always wanted to surf. Growing up I enjoyed riding dirtbikes, skateboards, and snowboards but I always knew something was missing. I joined the Marine Corps in 2016 which sparked my surfing career. I was stationed right here in Eastern NC allowing me to surf some of the best breaks North Carolina has to offer. I am currently pursuing a Bachelors in Business through Penn State. My goal is to continue to develop my personal and professional career as a surfer, instructor, and husband. I strive to keep the stoke alive and always have fun! 

 

Paul Desmond - Private Surf Instructor

Paul Desmond – Private Surf Instructor

My name is Paul, I have grown up right here in Wilmington, NC, and have surfed at Wrightsville beach for the large majority of my life. Originally being taught by my dad at 9, I immediately caught the surf bug and haven’t stopped since. I’m currently a full-time student at UNCW but I spend the majority of my free time at the beach in some way, if it isn’t surfing it’s, boating, fishing, or laying out in the sun. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to enjoy surfing in many ways, from competing, teaching lessons or just having a casual surf with my friends, I enjoy every second I am in the water. This is my first year with WBSurf Camp, and I’m hoping to inspire people to surf, the same way I was when started.

 

Jack Kephart - Private Surf Instructor

Jack Kephart – Private Surf Instructor

Jack is a second year surf instructor originally from New Jersey in the suburbs of New York City. He grew up spending summers at his family’s beach home in Bethany Beach, Delaware. Growing up an athlete in swim and lacrosse, Jack naturally fell in love with surfing at age 10 after his first surf lesson during a trip to Mexico. From the moment he caught his first wave, he found himself hooked on surfing and chasing the waves whenever he could. After graduating from Roanoke College with a Bachelors in Communications and briefly living in Charlotte and Denver, Jack found himself missing the beach more than ever. He moved to Atlantic City in 2019, where his passion for surfing everyday (even in below freezing temperatures and some snow storms) really began. The COVID pandemic and a desire for warm weather year round made the move to Wilmington an easy choice, and Wrightsville Beach has happily been his home break ever since.  Jack has been so blessed to meet so many awesome people within the surf community here that have helped shape and guide his passion into being a professional career for him. He is so grateful to share the stoke! 

In the rare times that you might see Jack out of the water, you can find him hanging out with his two hound dogs, spending time with his fiancé and friends, or watching movies (or hours of surf videos). 

 

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